The recent success of The Hunger Games has lead to a frenzy of rights licensing for fresh culinary-themed properties as studios try to turn the contemporary foodie craze into the next big formulaic feature franchise hit machine.
In just the last 30 days, frenzied auctions for books, some still unpublished, have been generating tremendous buzz within both the literary and Hollywood community, as celebrity chefs and other noted cookbook authors line up to negotiate deals.
According to Seamus Smyth-Knead, managing director of the book-to-film division at CAA’s London office, “Right now, that’s what’s hot. Even mediocre selling books about charcuterie and vegetable carving are getting six figure advances.”
Smyth-Knead went on to explain that, “There isn’t a single major studio that isn’t looking to capitalize on the foodie craze right now. They figure fickle superhero and teen werewolf fans come and go, people hate Mars, but hey, everybody has to eat, right?”
Studios, desperate to find the next blockbuster franchise, have descended checkbook in hand into the culinary world, seeking to fill their development pipeline as quickly as possible. Popular Croatian restaurateur and film critic Peter Grgnznvic, noted that, “Stories set in restaurants, with interesting menus, coupled with protagonists that have identifiable struggles with themes like love, vengeance and of course, hunger, people never tire of enjoying this type of drama.”
Recent cookbooks that have been optioned by studios include works such as, “Tantalizing Pâtés for Under $10,” “The Young Betty Crocker Chronicles” and “The Skinny Vegan Robo-Vampire Gourmet.”
Bestselling cookbook author and TV show producer Anthony Bourdain is rumored to be in the middle of a six studio bidding war for a treatment entitled, “Julia Childs – Ninja Assassin,” while the hugely popular BBQ master chef and cookbook author Bobby Flay is supposedly being courted for his unfinished work, “The Grilling” about a conflicted teen sorcerer apprenticed to a kind-hearted champion Texas pitmaster, wrongly accused of murder. Interest in Paula Deen’s treatment, “Die a Sweet Death” have been mixed, said Smyth-Knead, as “many execs feel the horror genre has played itself out.”